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MADAM BUTTERFLY

27 May 2016

Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking story of unrequited love is currently being performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum - I went to see it for the first time last week, armed with tissues and ready to shed a tear. Set in Japan in the early twentieth century, the three act opera tells the tale of the naive geisha Cio-Cio San who marries and is then deserted by an American lieutenant (played by British tenor David Butt Philip).  Madam Butterfly (played by American soprano Rena Harms) waits for him to return "one fine day" and is forced to give up their child when he returns with a new wife three years later.

Madam Butterfly by the English National Opera, 2016 - London lifestyle & culture blog

The late Anthony Minghella’s cinematographic staging of Madam Butterfly, first seen in 2005, is a visual feast featuring a traditional Japanese fan dance, falling cherry blossom, puppetry from Blind Summit Theatre (the bunraku child puppet is fantastic), glowing paper lanterns, Han Feng's colourful costumes and kimonos and simple staging with a black stage and colourful back lights designed by Peter Mumford. Sung in English (I'd have preferred Italian) with surtitles above the stage, Puccini's score is performed by the English National Opera orchestra led by conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, with the ENO chorus performing the beautiful Humming Song. It's a great production and moving story; Madam Butterfly is an enduring opera classic with good reason - go see.

Madam Butterfly runs until 7 July 
London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES

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